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Emergency managers bracing for big eclipse crowd

LIBERTY, Mo. -- Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to arrive in the metro area later this month to view the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States in nearly a century.

Emergency managers in Clay County are bracing themselves for a lot of congestion.

Hotel rooms from St. Joseph to North Kansas City are booked solid for August 21st, the day of the solar eclipse. And emergency managers are planning for more than a million people who may travel to our area for this once in a lifetime event.

Congestion is the primary concern. Visitors are advised to pack an emergency kit, in case you get stuck in traffic or can't find a place to stay.

Don't rely on GPS or smartphone map applications, the cell network may be overwhelmed.

And plan to arrive at least a day ahead of time. Most first responders are adding staff, the Clay County Sheriff's Department says it will have double the number of deputies on duty for eclipse day.

"One of our main concerns is the traffic flow," said Deputy Jon Bazzano, of the Clay Co. Sheriff's Department. "We want to make sure highways and main thoroughfares remain uncongested. We don't want people to get stuck on the sides of the road."

Emergency managers say eclipse watchers should check the weather forecast. Dress in layers and know where to go if there's severe weather.

Avoid driving during the period of darkness if you can. Drive with extra caution if you must be on the roads and don't pull over on busy routes to view the event.

Emergency planners say all eclipse watchers should have a contingency plan in place for staying in touch with family should phone services be unavailable.